Popular Sap-2-Syrup Event Highlights Local Maple Production 

Tour, East Andover to Trail Side Sugar House

By Ken Wells
Landowner Sandra Graves and Sugar House operator Zach Barton [at left] stand with ASLPT members and guests at the annual Sap-2-Syrup event on March 2.

On Saturday, March 2, Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust (ASLPT) hosted a fun excursion called the “Sap-2-Syrup” tour, starting at the Graves conservation easement. Participants from New London, Andover, and other nearby towns were welcomed onto the East Andover property by owner Sandra Graves.

It was a perfect day to enjoy the commanding view of Mt. Kearsarge to the west, Highland Lake to the east, and former Governor Nahum Bachelder’s magnificent 1903 farm estate across the street. ASLPT Stewardship & Outreach Coordinator Glennie LeBaron pointed out visible signs of the wildlife that find refuge on the easement and explained, as well, the benefits to both landowners and the community realized by placing land under protection with ASLPT.  Zach Barton of nearby Trail Side Sugar House [https://www.trailsidesugarhouse.com/] was on hand to explain his care of this “orchard” of maple trees and the process of extracting the sap.

At the conclusion of the walk, participants were welcomed into the sugar house, where Zach delineated the sugaring process after sap makes its way there. The Trail Side Sugar House is a modern, sparkling example of a successful and ecologically-conscious New Hampshire sugaring operation. 

Zach expressed that last season they processed about 58,000 gallons of sap, using a wood-fired evaporator with state-of-art filter press and reverse osmosis. The shiny new equipment requires only four cords of wood for a whole season of operation, rather than 20 cords used by primitive equipment, plus it makes a more pleasing product than the mass-market syrup made using fuel-oil-fired evaporators.

The Graves conservation easement is a little over 53 acres and is part of a much larger ecosystem/habitat area covering more than 1,000 acres of protected lands through the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge area. Not only does the Graves property boast a 25-acre open field, stone walls, and sugar maples, it also provides for 200′ of protected frontage on Highland Lake and all the lovely views that go along with this very special place. 

Many thanks to Sandra Graves for being so welcoming to our group of interested members and friends, and also to Zach and his crew at the Trail Side Sugar House for helping us learn about this wonderful process of converting “Sap-2-Syrup”!